Fired CRTC commissioner Raj Shoan back at work after court ruling by Emily Jackson

May 1, 2017

Source: National Post

There’s more leadership drama at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission after the federal court quashed cabinet’s decision to fire Raj Shoan, the commissioner for Ontario.

Shoan was back at the office Monday – even though the federal government is in the midst of an extended hiring process to replace him – after the court ruled late Friday that he was potentially denied procedural fairness when the Governor in Council fired him last June over allegations of workplace harassment and other actions “fundamentally incompatible” with the role.

Justice Cecily Strickland ruled that cabinet must re-consider its decision to fire Shoan since it was based in part on the harassment investigation that a judge tossed aside as flawed in September. While Strickland found a “legitimate concern” over Shoan’s apparent disregard for some CRTC processes, she could not determine if he was afforded procedural fairness.

“I am aware that the GIC’s decision on redetermination may well be the same but, based on the record before me, I am unable to determine that this is inevitable,” Strickland stated in her judgment.

Shoan’s return comes less than two months before chairman Jean-Pierre Blais’ term expires. Their relationship is fraught. Shoan filed several legal challenges against the CRTC and accused Blais of participating in a “witch hunt” against him.

As of Monday, all commissioner meetings were cancelled for the foreseeable future.

The CRTC referred all requests for comment about Shoan’s return to Canadian Heritage.

Minister of Canadian Heritage Melanie Joly had no comment on the ruling or how it might affect the hiring process for the other commissioner positions.

“We are still reviewing the decision,” a department spokesman said in an email.

For his part, Shoan said he looks forward to continuing work with the CRTC.

“As only the second person of colour and one of the youngest appointees in the history of the CRTC, I was resolved to leaving a lasting and positive mark on the CRTC. My tenure was unexpectedly interrupted, however, and I was unfortunately required to seek the assistance of the courts,” Shoan said in a statement.

Shoan returns to work as Canadian Heritage, the ministry responsible for the CRTC, vies to fill four commissioner spots, including Shoan’s. Only eight of 13 potential positions are occupied.

The government has had trouble finding permanent replacements, delaying the hiring process a couple times to find more diverse candidates. That’s one area where Shoan and Blais seem to have common ground. In March, Blais criticized the government for not appointing Indigenous people to the commission for almost 20 years. He has previously called for more diversity on CRTC panels.

© National Post